Broccoli with fennel

1 large fennel bulb, about 8 oz.
8 oz. broccoli florets
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, marjoram, and/or savory to taste

Trim top from fennel and cut bulb into eighths. Parboil fennel and broccoli about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Heat oil, add broccoli and fennel, and toss to coat. Cover and let steam over low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until done, 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs.

Adapted from: The original Mediterranean cuisine : medieval recipes for today / Barbara Santich. Chicago Review Press, c1995.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 17 Aug 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Aug 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Broccoli is considered a superfood and is best known as a cancer fighter. It is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. It is said to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help in detoxification. It is also rich in chromium, which may help prevent adult-onset diabetes.

The Romans grew and enjoyed broccoli during the first century CE, having gotten it from the Etruscans. The name comes from the Latin “bracchium,” which means “strong arm or branch.” It was an obscure vegetable in the U.S. until the 20th century, but has been gaining in popularity, especially over the last thirty years or so.

The leaves and stalks are edible, but the leaves are rather bitter. The stalks have a tough skin and should be peeled before cooking. If you don’t much like broccoli but want to eat it for its wonderful health effects, try peeling, slicing, and cooking just the stalks — some people who are put off by the texture of the flowerheads find the milder, firmer stems much more enjoyable.

In the kitchen
I know I just did zucchini recipes a couple of weeks ago, but there are so many other kinds of summer squash, I think I can find a few more recipes. I like the little round patty-pan squash, because they look like bright yellow flying saucers, but these recipes mostly assume you’ve got the sausage-shaped kind.

Grilled whole summer squash
1.5-2 lb. small summer squash (about 4), washed and patted dry
4 T olive oil
chopped fresh parsley, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat grill with all burners on high, 10-15 min. Trim the tops and bottoms of the sqash and rub them with oil. Turn one burner off and the other(s) to medium. Place squash over the burner that is off, close the lid, and cook until easily pierced with a sharp knife, 12-20 min., turning as needed. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Toss sliced with parsley and seasonings.
From: The gas grill gourmet : great grilled food for everyday meals and fantastic feasts / A. Cort Sinnes with John Puscheck. Harvard Common Press, c1996.

Wagon Wheels with Summer Squash and Mint
16 oz wagon-wheel or bow-tie pasta, cooked
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 lb. (about 6) mixed summer squash, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Heat butter and olive oil over high heat. Add squash slices, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup chopped mint; cook until vegetables are just tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and Parmesan cheese; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Toss together vegetable mixture, pasta and remaining chopped mint.

Summer Squash and Carrot Ribbons
1.25 lb. zucchini and summer squash
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled
24 large basil leaves, slivered
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp anise seed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Trim ends of zucchini and squash. Using a vegetable peeler, shave each squash into long, wide, very thin strips, avoiding the center of the squash where the seeds are. Shave the carrots in the same fashion. Toss zucchini, squash, and carrot ribbons with basil. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, anise seeds, salt, and pepper together and drizzle over vegetable ribbons; toss.

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Newsletters: 6 July, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 6 July, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Having had the great good fortune to break a toe (instead of ending up a horrible mess for someone to clean up), I’ve been researching some of the nutritional aspects of bone healing this week. Obligatory disclaimer: I’m a librarian, not a doctor, so use this information at your own discretion (personally, I approach doctors’ advice the same way, but I’m known to be a bit odd).

So, obviously it’s important to get plenty of calcium, and vitamin C isn’t too hard to guess, but I would have said protein was more for muscular healing. Seems it’s good for bones, too. Zinc is important, and up to six weeks of a tiny amount of copper is also recommended by some sources. Copper is a pro-oxidant, so it should only be taken carefully and when needed. Glucosamine is also a good idea, because where a bone has broken there’s likely to be some cartilage damage as well.

In the kitchen
While we’ve been watching anxiously for the more finicky vegetables to ripen, good ol’ broccoli has quietly come into season. Here are some quick and easy things to do with it.

Broccoli with sesame oil
8 oz whole broccoli, cut into florets, or 4 oz florets
2 t Oriental sesame oil
Steam broccoli ca. 7 min. Drain and sprinkle with sesame oil.
From: 20-minute menus / Marian Burros. 1st Fireside ed. Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Pasta, broccoli, and pine nuts
3 qt water
1 c small shells or other small pasta (2 oz)
8 oz broccoli florets
4 T raisins or currants
3 T pine nuts
1 c plain low-fat yogurt
1 T rice vinegar
pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil and cook; 5 min. before it is done add broccoli. Combine raisins, pine nuts, yogurt, vinegar, pepper. When pasta and broccoli are done, drain and add to yogurt.
Also from: 20-minute menus / Marian Burros. 1st Fireside ed. Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Broccoli soup
2 T vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
ca. 2 c broccoli stalks and leaves, peeled if tough and diced
13.75 oz chicken broth
1/4 t thyme, crumbled
Heat oil and saute the onion and garlic until tender, ca. 3 min. Add broccoli stalks and leaves and cook, stirring, 3 min. more. Add broth, pepper, thyme and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 25 min. Puree in batches in a blender and reheat.
From: Cooking for two today / Jean Hewitt, Marjorie Page Blanchard. Little, Brown, c1985.

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Broccoli Salad

2 heads broccoli
4-10 slices bacon (enough to go with broccoli amount)
4-8 green onions (enough to go with broccoli amount)
1/4 – 1/2 cup almonds, sliced (enough to go with broccoli amount)

1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. vinegar

Slice the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces and fry until almost crisp, set aside and let cool. Brown the almonds in a 350F oven until light brown, set aside and let cool. Cut the broccoli into bite size florets and put into a bowl. Slice the onions thinly (including the green parts) and but into the bowl with the broccoli.

In another bowl, mix the dressing until smooth and creamy.

Mix the bacon and almonds in with the broccoli and onions, and mix until all ingredients are well distributed. Pour in dressing and mix well until everything is well coated. Use judgment here; use enough to liberally coat the salad ingredients but you don’t want things swimming. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

From: Carolyne McNary, adapted by Kelly Iverson

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Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.


native to: Italy
in season here: summer-winter
Broccoli is a member of the brassica or cruciferous family, related to cauliflower, cabbage, and arugula; some sources suggest eating 3-5 cups of brassicas per week. It’s a “very low calorie vegetable” and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients, and flavonoids. Broccoli is particularly known for phytonutrients and flavonoids that offer protection against a range of cancers. The anti-oxidants include vitamins A and C; vitamin A supports eyesight and vitamin C supports the immune system.

Broccoli is very good for the body’s detoxification system. It contains three glucosinolate phytonutrients in a special combination that supports all the steps of the detoxification process and isothiocyanates that help control this process at a genetic level (as well as being good for digestion in general). It also offers anti-inflammatory benefits and and can lessen the impact of allergies.

Broccoli was developed from wild cabbage in ancient Roman times. Although it’s customary to eat only the flower heads or florets of broccoli, the leaves and (peeled) stalks are also edible. In fact, if you dislike broccoli, I encourage you to peel and slice the stalks, and try them boiled or steamed until tender; some people are put off by the texture of the florets. Raw broccoli is the best for you, but to retain the most nutrients when cooking Broccoli, keep the temperature low; steam it at 212F for no more than 5 minutes. If you’re cooking the stems as well, start them earlier that the florets, and for even more nutrients, include the leaves. Broccoli sprouts and microgreens are also gaining popularity.

One note of caution, however: broccoli, like other brassicas, contains “goitrogens” that can be a problem for people with thyroid problems. Those with healthy thyroids, however, can eat as much of it as they want.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw broccoli
label-style nutrition information for cooked broccoli

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.